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4.9.4 Staying Put

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

A Staying Put arrangement is where a young person who has been living in foster care remains in their former foster home after the age of 18.

RELATED CHAPTERS

Leaving Care and Transition Procedure

RELATED GUIDANCE

Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 3: Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers (revised January 2015)

Staying Put - Arrangements for Care Leavers Aged 18 and Above to Stay on With Their Former Foster Carers – Government Guidance issued by the DfE, DWP and HMRC (2013)

Staying Put: Good Practice Guide

Staying Put: What Does it Mean for You? (Catch 22 National Care Advisory Service)

AMENDMENT

In May 2018 this chapter was substantially revised and should be re-read in full.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Planning
  3. Legal Status and Safeguarding
  4. Support for Former Foster Carers
  5. Financial Implications
  6. Young People Attending University, etc.
  7. Young People Eligible for Adult Services
  8. Ending of Staying Put Arrangements

    Appendix 1: Financial Matters


1. Introduction

A Staying Put arrangement is where a Former Relevant child remains beyond the age of 18 with their former foster carer.

It is the duty of the local authority:

  • To monitor the Staying Put arrangement; and
  • To provide advice, assistance and support to the Former Relevant child and the former foster carer with a view to maintaining the Staying Put arrangement (this must include financial support), until the child reaches the age of 21 (unless the local authority consider that the Staying Put arrangement is not consistent with the child’s welfare).

It is important to plan the intended duration of the placement from the outset, although this will be subject to review. This should be linked to the assessment of the young person’s readiness for independence, and how long it might take them to develop the skills and confidence to live independently and outlined in the Pathway Plan. There should not be an expectation that every arrangement will continue until the young person reaches 21 years of age.

The intention of Staying Put arrangements is to ensure that young people can remain with their former foster carers until they are prepared for adulthood, can experience a transition akin to their peers, avoid social exclusion and be more likely to avert a subsequent housing and tenancy breakdown.

In this context, the term 'arrangement' should be used rather than 'placement' as the term 'placement' denotes a situation where the local authority arranged and placed the child with a foster carer. Once the child reaches the age of eighteen and legal adulthood, the local authority is no longer making a placement, but facilitating a Staying Put ‘arrangement’ for the young person.

Where the carer intends to continue fostering, consideration must be given by the supervising social worker to any impact upon the terms of the foster carers' approval, including the number they are approved for, and whether this includes the Staying Put young person.

Young people living with foster carers provided by independent agencies should be treated in the same way as those living with local authority foster carers when consideration is given to a 'staying put' arrangement. Local authorities should have discussions with independent fostering providers at an early stage regarding the option of a 'staying put' arrangement. This discussion should include the amount of allowance the local authority will pay the former foster carer.

If a young person feels that their wish to remain with their former foster carer has not been properly considered by the local authority or they are unhappy with the way in which the local authority has acted, they may wish to speak to their Independent Reviewing Officer and request a review of their Pathway Plan. The young person should also be told of their right to use their local authority's complaints procedure to voice any concerns, and of their right to have an independent advocate.


2. Planning

Discussion should start with the young person and foster carer regarding the option of staying put as early as possible, ideally before the young person reaches the age of 16.

If this has not already been done, the first Looked After Review following their 16th birthday should consider whether a Staying Put arrangement might be an option and this should be revisited at each subsequent review. This will entail assessing the implications for both the young person and the foster carer and discussions between the young person’s social worker and the carer’s supervising social worker.

The young person must be given a copy of ‘A Young Person’s Guide to Staying Put’ and helped, as necessary, to understand the scheme and how it differs from fostering.

The carer should be given a copy of ‘A Carer’s Guide to Staying Put’ which outlines the scheme and the particular implications for carers.

When carrying out the needs-led assessment as part of Pathway Planning, the social worker, in conjunction with the young person and the carer should always consider whether a Staying Put arrangement might be appropriate, and include the supervising social worker in these discussions. Where it could be appropriate, and both the child and the foster carer want this, the proposal for a Staying Put arrangement should be presented to the Head of Service for Countywide and Looked After Children’s Service by the young person’s social worker and, if agreement is given, established in discussion with the supervising social worker.

When the arrangement starts, the social worker must complete form SOC 408. This must be completed at every birthday whilst the arrangement continues.

The young person's Pathway Plan will be supported by a 'Licence Agreement' which will set out the practical arrangements regarding the young person remaining as a young adult in the Staying Put arrangement. It should set out the 'ground rules' of the household as well as the areas of responsibility that all parties to the arrangement are expected to fulfil. Many of these will be an extension of the expectations on them when they were a foster child. This will cover arrangements such as:

  • Preparation for adulthood and independence tasks;
  • Finance, including young people having credit cards, loan agreements and mobile phone contracts registered at the address;
  • Income and benefit claims;
  • Friends and partners visiting and staying at the address;
  • Staying away for nights/weekends and informing carers of movements;
  • Education, training and employment activities;
  • Health arrangements;
  • Move-on arrangements;
  • Issues related to any younger foster care children in the placement, for example, safeguarding, being a positive role model, time-keeping, etc.

It should be planned from the outset, and detailed in the Pathway Plan, how the arrangement will help the young person develop the skills required for independent living once they move on. They should be supported to continue to develop a range of skills including:

  • Relationships - getting on with others; establishing community networks; understanding responsibilities as a neighbour; developing close/intimate relationships; when and how to communicate with relevant professionals;
  • Emotional Resilience - managing isolation and where to go for support. Building self-esteem;
  • Finance and budgeting - opening a bank account, safe borrowing and managing debt, understanding basic financial products, benefits and welfare entitlements; budgeting for priority bills, household appliances and everyday shopping on a budget;
  • Cooking - cooking healthily and on a budget; understanding nutrition and its impact on overall health;
  • Managing a home - washing and ironing, cleaning, basic DIY, operating appliances and what is allowed within a tenancy; and
  • Applying for jobs - understanding strengths and areas for personal development; developing job and application skills: working relationships and maintaining employment understanding job/volunteering pathways and support available; understanding bursaries and other financial support; where to go for advice; understanding the impact of work on benefits;
  • Further and Higher Education – courses and opportunities; financial support; going to University.


3. Legal Status and Safeguarding

Following the young person's 18th birthday, the legal basis on which they occupy the property (former foster home) changes. The legal term is that the young person becomes an 'excluded licensee' lodging in the home. This should not denote that the young person will be treated differently to when they were a fostered child. In addition, the carer may also become, and be deemed, the young person's landlord/landlady.

The associated change from foster child to adult member of the household, and for the carer from foster carer to Staying Put carer, (technically the young person's landlord) should be carefully and sensitively planned in order to ensure that both young people and the carer/s understand the nature of the arrangement and that the positive aspects of having been in foster care are not diminished by the new legal and financial arrangements and terminology.

While Fostering Regulations will no longer legally apply to these arrangements, key standards should continue to govern the expectations of the placement when the young person reaches 18.

These should include in all cases, but particularly in cases where there are no foster children living in the carer’s home:

  • A ‘Licence Agreement’ that makes explicit and clear what the implications of the change from being Looked After to being in a Staying Put arrangement, including what the young person and the carer can reasonably expect of each other and of the local authority;
  • A system for reviewing and approving the Staying Put arrangement and carer/s to ensure that the arrangement complies with local authority expectations;
  • Safeguarding and risk assessment checks on household members and in certain circumstances regular visitors;
  • Health and safety requirements (as a minimum this should comply with landlord and licensee/tenant requirements);
  • Regular supervision and support, possibly from their fostering supervising social worker; and
  • Opportunities to attend appropriate training.

The social worker must assess individual circumstances and consider the appropriateness of all of these checks particularly where the young person is the only person placed/living with their carer and it is not envisaged that further children will be placed. In circumstances where it is clear that the carer will not be fostering any further children, it would be appropriate to discuss termination of their approval as a foster carer. In situations where it is possible that they may foster again in the future, it would be inappropriate to terminate their approval, given the length of time that re-approval would take. Where a foster carer's approval is terminated, it will be necessary to ensure that the Staying Put arrangement continues to meet appropriate standards.

Where Foster Children are Living in the Household

Where fostered children are living in the household, the checks and requirements associated with fostering legislation will apply and will provide a framework for safeguarding and checking arrangements for the whole household.

In these situations the carer must remain an approved foster carer and the Fostering Regulations and Guidance will apply with the consequential requirements of supervision, review and safeguarding. Whilst the fostering legislation will primarily apply to the placements of the fostered children, it does ensure that a system of approval, checking and supervision is applied to the whole household.

Additionally, where foster children are in placement, the foster carers will need to be returned to the Fostering Panel due to a change in circumstances as the child/young person Staying Put will have reached adulthood and become an adult member of the fostering household.

Young people remaining in a foster care household beyond the age of eighteen will become adult members of the household and will require a valid Disclosure and Barring Service check in settings where a foster child or foster children are living. The check (and possible subsequent risk assessment) must be completed before the young person's eighteenth birthday.


4. Support for Former Foster Carers

The 14-25 Team will discuss with the former foster carer whether they require any particular training and guidance to help support the young person and will source this, as required. It should be explored with the former foster carer the type of training and support they think they will require, particularly in helping the young person develop independent life skills. Whether the former foster carer is from the local authority or an independent fostering service, careful consideration should be given to continued support which could include peer support.

The social worker must ensure that the former foster carer is aware of the complaints process and also which manager they should contact with any concerns.


5. Financial Implications

Whilst the level of financial support payable will depend upon individual needs and circumstances, former foster carers will be paid an allowance that will cover all reasonable costs of supporting the care leaver to remain living with them. Clear information must be provided to foster carers on the financial support which would be provided to help them consider well in advance whether they wish to participate in such arrangements.

When deciding upon the level of financial support payable, careful consideration will have to be given to the impact of the 'staying put' arrangement on the family's financial position. The impact will vary from family to family.

It will be necessary to consider:

  • How moving from a ‘placement’ to an ‘arrangement’ will impact on the allowances provided by the Local Authority and whether other funding, e.g. funding for housing related support, will contribute to meeting Staying Put costs; The specific arrangements for Agency foster carers;
  • Additional allowances provided when the child was a foster child will cease, for example holiday allowances, birthday and Christmas/festival allowances;
  • Any financial contributions from the young person from their wages, salary, benefits or educational allowances. Depending on their circumstances, young people who remain in a Staying Put arrangement may be able to claim means tested benefits for their personal needs from their eighteenth birthday. However, young people will not be expected to claim benefits during Year 13 of education until they leave school/college.

How the income tax, national insurance and welfare benefits situation of carers may be affected by post-18 payments (see Appendix 1: Financial Matters).

For information on the financial arrangements for young people, see Staying Put Finances.


6. Young People Attending University, etc.

Living away from the former foster carer's home for temporary periods such as attending higher education courses should not preclude a 'staying put' arrangement. This might include university, a residential further education institution, undertaking induction training for the armed services or other training or employment programmes that require a young person to live away from home.

The level of allowances paid to the carer and the financial support to the young person would require individual discussion and tailoring to specific circumstances.


7. Young People Eligible for Adult Services

Where young people meet the Fair Access to Care Services criteria for Adult Services, consideration should be given to the placement becoming a Shared Lives arrangement. In some circumstances, the young person may remain in the Staying Put arrangement whilst being funded by Adult Services. Once their involvement is identified as a possibility, Adult Services should be involved in all discussions and planning. This is important to ensure that both the young person and the carer have a clear regulatory and safeguarding framework that addresses their respective needs.


8. Ending of Staying Put Arrangements

The Staying Put arrangement continues until:

  • The young person leaves the Staying Put arrangement;

    or
  • The young person reaches their twenty-first birthday.

The local authority may wish to continue supporting a young person beyond age 21 if it meets their individual needs, such as finishing their course of education.

Those supporting each individual young person must ensure that the end of a 'staying put' arrangement is not a 'cliff edge' but a gradual transition to independent living. It should be agreed at the outset how any wish by the carer to bring the arrangement to an end should be managed, including what notice period is required. The social worker/personal adviser should discuss with the young person their transition from such an arrangement to another type of accommodation and agree the type of support the young person will require. These arrangements should be developed alongside joint protocols with the housing authority, setting out how access to social housing and care leavers 'priority need' status will be discharged.

An ‘excluded licensee’ can be asked to leave the property by the Staying Put carer, who must give 'reasonable notice' and every effort must be made to support and sustain the arrangement but, if the ending cannot be avoided, it is important to ensure that any move is planned/managed and the reasons for it understood by the young person.


Appendix 1: Financial Matters

Where a young person continues to reside with their former foster carer after their eighteenth birthday on a non-commercial and familial basis, and the child was Looked After immediately prior to their eighteenth birthday, and the payments are made by the local authority to the carer under section 23C of the Children Act 1989 (continuing functions in respect of former relevant children), then the payments are disregarded in calculating the carers entitlement to means tested benefits. When a commercial arrangement is made, (i.e. any element of the cost of the arrangement comes from a source other than section 23C), the non-section 23C element will be taken into account in the calculation of the carer's own means-tested benefit claim;

The social worker must explain to the young person their full entitlements, including how they will provide the young person with their leaving care grant once they move on from a 'staying put' arrangement and live independently.

Means Tested Benefits

Where:

  • A young person continues to reside with their former foster carer after their eighteenth birthday on a non-commercial and familial basis; and
  • The child was Looked After immediately prior to their eighteenth birthday; and
  • The payments are made by the local authority to the carer under section 23C of the Children Act 1989 (continuing functions in respect of former relevant children).

Then the payments are disregarded in calculating the carers' entitlement to means-tested benefits.

When a commercial arrangement is made, (i.e. any element of the cost of the arrangement comes from a source other than section 23C), the non-section 23C element will be taken into account in the calculation of the carer's own means-tested benefit claim.

Additionally, the disregard is lost on the whole payment (section 23C and non-section 23C elements) when the young person first leaves the Staying Put arrangement, should the young person return to their former foster/Staying Put carer or move to another carer after their eighteenth birthday.

Housing Benefit/Universal Credit

There may be Housing Benefit implications as a result of Staying Put Arrangements. Housing Benefit is, however, being replaced by Universal Credit. Individual advice will therefore need to be obtained.

Council Tax and Council Tax Benefit

The position regarding Council Tax will vary depending on the circumstances of the carers, the number of adults in the household and the activity that the young person is engaged in.

Young people undertaking full time education are 'invisible' for council tax purposes.

Income Tax and National Insurance (HMRC)

For HMRC purposes only, there is a broader definition of 'Staying Put'. A 'Staying Put' carer (for HMRC purposes only) does not need to be a registered foster carer or former foster carer. For tax purposes, Staying Put allowances are treated as being the same as fostering allowances.

Young people are able to return to a different Staying Put carer between the age of 18 and 21, or until the completion of an education or training course, for example during a university vacation.

Where a Staying Put arrangement meets the HMRC qualifying criteria (and where the young adult continues to be cared for as a member of the carer's family) the Income Tax and National Insurance rules that apply to foster carers are extended to Staying Put carers. The young people are required to share the Staying Put carers' home and daily family life during the placement' i.e. live as a 'member of the carer's family'. This system provides for foster carers and/or Staying Put carers to earn up to a given amount without paying Income Tax or Class 4 National Insurance Contributions on their caring income.

The Income Tax free allowance consists of two elements. Firstly, a fixed amount per foster care or Staying Put household. Secondly, an additional amount per week per child.

Where there is more than one paid Staying Put carer in the household, the allowance is shared equally by both carers.

The tax free allowance only applies to the Staying Put carer's income from caring. If they have income from other sources, they will pay tax on that income in the normal manner.

Individual carers can consult their local HMRC office for guidance on their circumstances and liabilities.

For National Insurance Contributions purposes, in practice HMRC will treat the taxable profit from foster care or Staying Put care as earnings from self-employment. Foster care and Staying Put care is deemed as self-employment and as such carers should register as self-employed. All self-employed people aged 16 and over who are below State Pension age are liable and must register to pay Class 2 National Insurance Contributions.

Insurance (Including Liability and Household Insurance)

Staying Put carers must be provided with information about liability insurance cover, including situations where Staying Put young people may make an allegation against a foster child in placement, or against their Staying Put carer/s, or an allegation is made against the Staying Put young person. The majority of foster carers hold public liability insurance.

End